So, recently I decided to try something new. Something completely outside my comfort zone of engagement sessions and maternity, and decided to venture into the (unknown to me) world of birth photography. I did some research on what it entails and set out to find my first client. Not too long after, I was introducing myself to Shasten, a soon-to-be-mother of a beautiful baby girl, in the same city as me. We chatted a bit about each other, discussed the details of her pregnancy and said we would be in touch to set a date to meet in person prior to her due date that was still several weeks out. About a week later, I reached out to Shasten to schedule our appointment and she responds that she was having contractions but wasn’t sure if this was the ‘real deal’ happening. As excited as I was, I realized that I may be thrown into the world of birth photography a lot quicker than I had planned. In fact, all of this was happening while I was at home at 11 pm on a Wednesday night with my 11-month-old son tucked snoozing away in the bed beside me. I had work at my full time job at 6:45 in the morning. I looked over Shasten’s last message and read ‘real deal’ again, sent her a response enclosing my number and to be in touch with any updates, set my phone on loud and turned off my light.
The next morning, I awoke to no new text messages or calls. I got out of bed, dressed myself and son for school, and headed out, all the while telling myself it must have been a false alarm and that Shasten still had weeks to go. Telling myself that didn’t last long; around 9 am, about the time my kids in my class at school started arriving, I received a text saying that they were at the hospital and that the doctors made the decision to induce based on Shasten’s high blood pressure. A brief moment of panic set in, realizing I had not even mentioned this new agenda I might have with my other classroom teacher. I quickly tell her what’s going on, and as understanding as she always is, she sends me on my way to find someone to cover me for the day so I can go take on this fun, new experience.
I texted and called about five substitutes before I finally got a bite back. Her response? “Do you have a lunch for me?” Well, I did pack some leftovers from the other night for me to heat up, but it’s not anything I would feed to anyone if they came over to dinner at my house. “Sure, I got you.” I responded back. Sealed the deal and within thirty minutes my substitute arrived and I walked from my classroom down to my son’s room to nurse him then head out. As he was getting a fill up, I touch base with Shasten once again to check if any progress had been made in her labor. She responds back that the doctor just checked and she is now 7 cm dilated. What!
I jump up and run out to my car, all in a frenzy over the excitement of having my first birth session so quickly, and now scared over the possibility of missing it if I didn’t get my butt to the hospital quick enough. No time to run by my house to get my pump, praying the baby made a timely appearance or my boobs would pay the price. No time to stop and grab a bite to eat, since I had to bargain my lunch away to cover my shift at the preschool. I quickly park and grab my gear, trying to contain my excitement and jitters, all while praying that no news is good news and that no text means the baby hasn’t came yet. I walk up to the labor and delivery floor, flash the nurse at the front desk a big smile and state, ” I’m here for Shasten. I’m her birth photographer.” and she sends me to delivery room 4.
I quietly enter, and see Shasten in bed with the lights dimmed, and her husband Aaron sitting across from her on the couch, waiting. We introduce ourselves and quickly hit it off. Though Shasten is in and out of contractions, she laughs with me as she does her make-up and tells me about her and Aaron. Labor seems smooth for her. Time goes by, and as Shasten was quickly progressing earlier that morning, for the most part, her labor had slowed. We sat for about two hours, before she was checked and the doctor said, “okay you’re to a 9.5, about 30 minutes now and you’ll be ready.”
Not too long after, Shasten was feeling the urge to push. The nurse quickly came over and guided her through her breathing (in an out, in an out) as Shasten labored. After about twenty minutes, we see the baby begin to crown as Shasten uses the last of her breath to push and as she releases the baby slips back inside her. The nurse immediately calls over the radio for all Labor & Delivery staff to come to Room 4 stat because she thought the baby was going to join us before the doctor could run up from the other floor he had gone to help on. Luckily though, he was able to make it and help Shasten’s labor. After a few more pushes, Shasten delivered a beautiful baby girl through tears of joy. Tears from Shasten. Tears from Aaron. Tears from me.
Witnessing a birth was beyond amazing. Watching in awe as Shasten used her body to labor a child from her womb into this world was something I will never forget seeing for the first time through the eye of the lens. The intimate connection between mother and child and the tears of happiness of finally ‘meeting’ Earth side were rejuvenating. It was an absolutely eye-opening experience and I feel beyond blessed to have had this opportunity to capture the beauty in this new chapter for Shasten and her family.